U23s Comfortably Defeat Wigan
Friday, 3rd Sep 2021 14:54
Tawanda Chirewa, Albie Armin and Zanda Siziba (pictured) were on target as Town’s U23s comprehensively beat Wigan 3-0 at Portman Road.
Tomas Holy was the only senior player involved, while centre-half Elkan Baggott made his first start of the season having recovered from injury.
Town weren’t too far away from the opening goal in the fourth minute when Cameron Humphreys curled a free-kick towards the corner of the net but Latics keeper Sam Tickle did well to get down to his right to palm past the post.
The Blues, with former defender and close friend of manager Paul Cook John McGreal watching from the directors' box, had much the better of the early stages and on six a move down the right ended with Siziba, playing on the left of the three behind lone out-and-out attacker Ben Morris, shooting against a defender from the edge of the box.
On 18 Siziba curled a free-kick well over, then in the 24th minute Holy came a long way for a free-kick in from the left but the ball was headed well wide behind him.
Two minutes later, the Blues took the lead and the scorer came as little surprise. Chirewa, playing in the middle of the three behind Morris, tried to take the ball past a defender on the edge of the box and it fell kindly for him and he smashed a shot past Tickle, his third in the Professional Development League Two South this season, continuing a rich vein of goalscoring form which began in pre-season.
In the 28th minute, Morris cleverly beat his man and broke into the left of the box before crossing for Harley Curtis, who headed over. Four minutes later, Chirewa a free-kick curled over after Morris had been fouled not far outside the box.
On 36 Chirewa dispossessed Baba Adeeko midway inside the Wigan half to the right, brought it to the edge of the area before hitting a shot which was blocked. Four minutes later, Humphreys scuffed an effort wide from 20 yards.
In the 43rd minute Clements crossed from the left and Morris powered a header wide at the near post.
That was the last chance of a half in which the Blues had comfortably been on top and deserved a greater lead.
And a minute after the break they did increase their advantage. Armin was left completed unmarked at the far post as Humphreys’s corner came in from the right and planted a header into the corner of the net.
In the 49th minute it was 3-0. Siziba brought the ball forward from midway inside the Wigan half before smashing a superb strike into the top corner of the net.
Siziba went looking for his second of the afternoon and Town’s fourth, hitting a strike into a defender on the edge of the box before slicing a 55th-minute effort wide from a similar position.
Town were by now playing delightful confident football and on 58 an outstanding team move ended with Clements teeing-up Humphreys, who took a touch too many before shooting wide off a defender.
The Blues thought they’d gone four in front as the game reached the hour mark when Clements played a perfectly weighted ball for Curtis to run on to. The right-sided forward deftly flicked over the advancing Tickle and watched the ball as it nestled in the corner of the net, only for the linesman to somewhat belatedly raise his flag. It would have been a very memorable goal.
Town were looking like scoring with every attack by this stage and on 62 Chirewa turned and shot inside the area but keeper Tickle did well to get across to his left and push it wide with a strong arm.
In the 69th minute, the Blues swapped Matt Healy for right-back Levi Andoh with Fraser Alexander moving into central midfield.
Four minutes later, Curtis was pulled back as he took the ball into the area and eventually was sent to ground. Referee Michael Ryan gave Town a free-kick just on the edge of the box when a penalty looked the more likely decision. Humphreys slammed the free-kick into the wall.
In the 77th minute Morris, who had put in another lively display, and Curtis, very unlucky not to have scored, were swapped for Gerard Buabo and Jesse Nwabueze.
Wigan started to look a threat as the game moved into its final 10 minutes - with the U23s’ disrupted pre-season having an impact - with an effort from inside the area blocked. At the other end, Chirewa shot not too far wide, then a Tom Costello effort for the Latics looped off a defender and over.
Moments before the whistle, Siziba hit a strike against a defender from Buabo’s cross from the right.
A comfortable victory for the U23s who were rarely troubled by Wigan - Holy didn’t have a shot to save with Armin and Baggott in front of him solid - and could well have scored several more goals with impressive performances throughout the side, with Chirewa in particular always looking a threat.
Kieron Dyer and Bryan Klug’s side, who are up to second in PDL2 South, are next scheduled for league action on September 27th at Playford Road against leaders Bristol City.
U23s: Holy, Alexander, Clements, Healy (Andoh 69), Armin (c), Baggott, Curtis, Humphreys (Nwabueze 77), Morris (Buabo 77), Chirewa, Siziba. Unused: Cullum, Agbaje.
Wigan: Tickle, Lloyd, Robinson, Carragher, Long (c), Adeeko, Pinnington, McHugh, Costello, Sze, Lomax. Unused: Campbell, Baningime, Smith.
Photo: Matchday Images
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